From Publishers Weekly
From the screenwriter of How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days comes an irreverent memoir of growing up in the Garden State?a choppy, whirlwind tour of her dysfunctional childhood in the New Jersey suburbs, from the divorce of her parents when she was six to her victorious exeunt at age 17, bound for the Manhattan School of Music. Without any semblance of structure, Buckley flits from memory to memory, capturing a haphazard array of family arguments, personal embarrassments and lopsided adventures. Using excessive profanity, she describes her adopted Korean sister's bout with smallpox, her childhood home's rat infestation and septic tank problem (earning her family the unending disdain of the entire neighborhood) and the late arrival of her adopted sibling's long-lost brother, Nak. She waxes nostalgic about her crush on Sting, her obsession with the mafia and her early experiments with underage drinking, driving and dating. With a caustic, ironic tone, she picks out New Jersey's least appealing qualities (mall rats, big hair and bad jeans) and unapologetically exploits them for laughs. Though the average reader may find this flippant, often ribald narrative hard to get through, similarly-affected Jerseyites will find much to like in Buckley's slice-of-life pileup.
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"There was no one like us anywhere," Buckley writes of her family in this episodic, intermittently amusing memoir of growing up adrift and disaffected in the New Jersey of the 1970s and '80s. Most readers aren't likely to dispute Buckley's claim of uniqueness, especially after learning how she and her family suffered through "the worst case of rat infestation in the history of Northern New Jersey." After all, while other people have rats, how many are actually "impressed" by this fact and maybe even a little proud of it? On the other hand, how far can you trust a memoirist who cheerfully acknowledges that she came of age in "a family of pathological liars?" And let's not forget that Buckley did grow up to be a screenwriter and novelist, professions that have been known to occasionally sacrifice facts on the altar of a good story. Frankly, though, most readers will be so taken by Buckley' s larger-than-life, take-no-prisoners mother that they won't much care. Embellish the truth as much as you want, Ms. Buckley; just give us more stories about Mom. Michael Cart
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